This is the season of the year to celebrate the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. God the Son became flesh and was born a baby in Bethlehem. We read in Luke chapter 1 of the announcement of Angel Gabriel to Mary the virgin mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’” As we read this paragraph, we may pause and ask ourselves, “How was He great?”
As we think on this question let us consider just for the next few minutes three ways in which our Lord Jesus was great. First of all, He was great in His condescension. We recognize the greatness of His condescension when we realize who He was before He came to earth. The New Testament speaks of His pre-incarnate position in many places. For example, in Romans 9:5 the Apostle Paul wrote, “Of [the Jewish people] are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”
This is one of my favorite texts because it speaks of both natures that our Savior has. He is a human being according to the flesh. He was of Jewish descent through Mary. At the same time, here is an unequivocal statement of his deity. He is the eternally blessed God. At one and the same time the Lord Jesus is God of very God and man of very man. He, who is the second person of the Godhead, the eternal Son, is the one who was born that first Christmas Day.
In John1:14, the Apostle John describes what took place in Jesus’ nativity. He writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The eternal Son of God became flesh and Tabernacled among humanity.
We cannot begin to fathom what it meant for the Son of God to become a man and be born as a baby. He who is from everlasting to everlasting somehow entered time and was for the first time bound by time. He who is the Great I AM, the all-sufficient God who needs no one and nothing, suddenly is a helpless infant. He, who in heaven was surrounded by angels who constantly sang His glory, is rejected of men and spat upon and condemned to hang upon a cross.
The hymn writer said it well when he wrote:
“Born among cattle, in poverty sore/
Living in meekness by Galilee’s shore/
Dying in shame as the wicked ones swore:
Jesus, Wonderful Lord.”
He was indeed great in His condescension, but in addition to that, He was great in His sin bearing. There is a reason Jesus had to condescend to become incarnate in human flesh. He had to come because we are all sinners. The Apostle Paul told us in Romans 3:10-12 “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” We are all sinners and as such come short of God’s demand for perfect righteousness. We, in our natural state, are in deep trouble.
God has further decreed the penalty for our sinfulness. Romans 6:23 states, “The wages of sin is death.” We may debate the morality of the death penalty, but God is clear, one sin, any sin, is worthy of death! And the soul that sins must die. If that is true, how is there hope for any of us?
Our only hope is in what God did in Christ. We read in the prophecy of Isaiah this tremendous promise. “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)
Jesus became a man and dwelt among us in order that He might become our sin bearer. Here it is in Isaiah, the greatest news of all time. The Lord has laid on Him our iniquity. God put on His Son our sin and then sent Him to Calvary and there judged our sin in the Lord Jesus Christ. He died that we might have life. He died to be our Savior.
Paul wrote about this too, in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For [God the Father] made [God the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in [the Son].” God made Him sin that we might become righteous in Him. “But as many as received [the Lord Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” The question is: Do you and I believe upon Him? Have you and I trusted Him to save us?
He was great in His condescension at His first coming. He was also great in His sin bearing. He also will be great when He comes a second time. At Christmas we celebrate the “first appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We call it the first appearing because someday, He is coming again.
We read of the promise the angels gave to the disciples at the very moment that Jesus ascended into heaven. “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:10-11). The same Jesus who went away will someday return.
He shall return not to be rejected by man, but to receive His own unto Himself. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18. “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” He will come again and receive all of His to take them home to be with Him. And someday He will again show Himself in power and great glory.
Philippians 2:9-11 says,“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” At that moment, everyone who ever lived will admit that He is the Lord, and He is great.
Do you have this Jesus as your Savior? You can if you will simply put your trust in Him alone to save you this Christmas season. Whether we know Him or not, we must face the fact that our Lord Jesus did enter time and became a man and He will come again. Since God went to all of this trouble for us, what will we do in return? We cannot earn our salvation, but we can, once we are converted, give our lives in service and obedience to Him.